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Establishing American Citizenship for Children Born in the Philippines



With the growing trend of American expatriates fleeing the economic downturn in the United States, the number of children being born to at least one U.S. parent is clearly on the rise. As a result of the increased birthrate, U.S. citizen parents are registering their children at the U.S. Embassy for citizenship through a process known as Consular Report of Birth Approval.

This procedure, which is subjected to numerous exceptions and requirements, allows an American citizen to petition their minor child for U.S. citizenship and hence, avoid the long delays that would ensue should they decide to simply petition their minor child for an immediate relevant immigrant petition. However, understanding the requirements for citizenship abroad can be quite tedious and frustrating. This is especially the case where the American citizen is not married to the Philippine national spouse or in circumstances, where the American parent has not spent enough time living in the United States in order to pass on citizenship to his/her child born in the Philippines.

In addition, due to a high rate of fraud, the U.S. embassy in Manila tends to examine petitions for citizenship with more scrutiny by requiring certain documentations such as authenticated birth certificates certified by the National Statistics Organization (NSO) as opposed to the birth certificate from the local municipality.

Because the burden is on the petitioner (the one filing for citizenship) to show that the child is eligible for citizenship as opposed to the burden being placed in the U.S. Embassy to show why the child is ineligible for citizenship, having the correct documentation in place at the time of filing is vital. This is to avoid having a petition being suspended until such requested documentation is produced. Thus, American citizens and their Philippine national partners or spouses should be aware of some requirements that must be established at the time of filing:

  • A showing of physical presence in the United States by the American citizen parent:


Simply presenting a copy of a U.S. passport is not enough to support a claim that the American parent has spent enough time in the United States in order to pass on citizenship. In fact, with many American citizens being born in the United States and returning with their families to the Philippines to attend high school and college, an American citizen (depending on the sex) is required to show that they have achieved (or banked) a certain amount of time passed a certain age in order to pass citizenship onto their child.

  • Establishing a relationship between the American citizen and the Philippine national prior to the conception of the child:


In cases where the parties are not married, embassy officials have the tendency to be more skeptical on whether the child is actually born to an American citizen. This is especially true where it is only the Philippines national who files the petition or where the American citizen parent is deceased. Thus, petitioning parties are strongly recommended to bring proof of a relationship prior to conceptions such as photos, conjugal owned properties, bank statements, etc.

  • Proof that the child is biologically related to an American citizen parent:


The fact that the American citizen parent’s name is on the birth certificate is insufficient to make out a showing that the child is biologically related to the American citizen. In fact, the embassy is faced with multiple cases of where the parties met after the mother conceived or whether they were married before the birth of the child. Thus, while the birth certificate states the name of the American citizen father, the fact that the child is biologically related to the father makes the child ineligible for a Consular Report of Birth Abroad and hence, would need to be petitioned through an immediate relative visa. When the U.S. citizen parent is unable to make out a showing that child is biologically theirs, a DNA test is requested.


Kindly contributed by Ryan Barshop 

*This article was also published in the June 24 – July 7, 2012 issue of Expat Newspaper

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